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How to apply for a research degree

Completing the research degree online application

When completing the online application, available via a link on the course listing, make sure you have the following information to hand:

  • Personal details
  • Academic qualifications (level, subject, where studied, results, year taken)
  • Work experience details (name of organisations, start and end dates)

When you access the online application, you will be given the opportunity to submit electronically the documents required as part of your application, shown in the table below. These supporting documents can alternatively be posted to the Admissions Office (clearly referencing your application reference number, which will be emailed to you when you save or complete the online application).

Documents required with research degree application
Document  Description Notes
Transcript  An academic transcript for each previous degree you have completed We can accept a scanned copy of your transcript if applying online, however you must bring the original with you when you register. If your transcript is not in English you will also need to provide a verified English translation..
 Reference 1 An academic reference from the academic institution you most recently attended  References should be on headed paper and signed by the referee.
 Reference 2  A second academic reference or a reference from your current or most recent employer  See above.
Sponsorship details   A copy of paperwork confirming the award of sponsorship Only applies to those in receipt of sponsorship or other grant. Examples might include a letter from a Government agency or an employer
English language qualification  Any relevant certificates for language qualifications (eg IELTS, TOEFL) English language requirements for each course are listed on the Entry Requirement page
Passport    A copy of your passport  Only applies to applicants from outside the EU we need a copy of details page of your passport, (including personal information and date and place of issue)
 Personal statement A brief personal statement in support of your application Typically this will be a brief explanation of why you want to pursue a research degree at Brunel University London. It can be uploaded as an attachment if you already have an electronic copy or it can be typed directly into the online form later in the process.
Certificates   Any relevant certificates This includes any certificates you consider relevant to your application (not already submitted under transcripts or language qualifications).
 Other documents Any other relevant documentation This includes any additional information which you consider relevant to your application, for example a Curriculum Vitae.
 Research statement  A description of your proposed research  See guidance on preparing your research statement below.

Preparing your research statement

Applicants are required to submit a statement (500-1000 words) about the broad area of study they are interested in as part of the application process. Your statement should outline your initial thoughts within the context of your chosen subject area(s).  This will help us: 

  • Identify your level of knowledge and understanding of the current literature/issues in your area;
  • Understand what drives you to undertake your research;
  • Try to match your proposed topic with potential supervisors within our College.  (If you have been developing your project with a potential supervisor you should state their name in your research statement);
  • Evaluate your ability to express your ideas and research aspirations. 

To help you in preparing your statement, we recommend you include the following: 

  1. Your area(s) of research interest: your proposed research topic(s) together with your draft research question(s), if you have thought about them;
  2. Your reasons for research:  a summary of the factors which prompted you to conduct research in your chosen topic(s);
  3. How your research will advance knowledge: try to summarise what you see as the most important problems or issues in your chosen topics and how your project(s) could advance the knowledge in your chosen field.  You may wish to reference to any prominent research findings or relevant literature, as you feel appropriate; Data and methods (if applicable): if you intend to use a secondary data, please describe the source, how this data was collected, sample size, a list of key variables, and whether you already have or will have access to this dataset. If you plan to collect your data, please describe the target population including sampling unit and geographical location of participants. In addition, briefly describe how you plan to analyse the data to answer your research questions as identified above.
  4. Your research location: where you will conduct your research from (for example at Brunel University London), including data collection.  If you will be located overseas for all or part of your studies, please state where you will be based;
  5. Bibliography: a list of any relevant literature you have referred to in developing your research aspirations and motivation.

Your outline will not bind you to a specific research topic or project.  If you are accepted to study on a PhD/MPhil programme with us, you may refine the scope of your project, hone your research question(s), your hypotheses and the research methods with the help of your designated supervisory team.  It may also be the case that your research questions and/or focus will change as your studies progress.

Start dates

The main intake dates for research degrees are at the start of October and January. Many research students find that it is most convenient to commence their studies at the start of October, since this is date on which annual re-enrolments take effect for research degrees. However, on most programmes it is possible to register from the first of any month (and then re-enrol from the following October). The exception is degrees with a substantial taught component (for example the Brunel Integrated PhD) where you may be required to start in October (or exceptionally January) in order to fit around the taught programme delivery.